Lawmaker Complains of 'Shoddy' Bridge Construction in Kachin

By Htet Naing Zaw 6 November 2018

NAYPYITAW — Two bridges and an embankment in Kachin State’s Hsawlaw Township built at a cost of several hundred thousand US dollars have fallen into disrepair only seven months after going into service due to substandard construction, a Lower House lawmaker told The Irrawaddy.

Lan Se bridge and Htan Tan bridge were built with money from the 2017-18 fiscal year budget at an expense of 500 million kyats ($315,000) and 300 million kyats ($189,000), respectively.

Seven months after they opened to the public, they are tilting and can no longer cope with heavy traffic.

“Construction [of Lan Se bridge] started in December last year, and [the bridge] was damaged seven months after it was built. Now only small vehicles can cross it; trucks, 12-wheel vehicles and backhoes can’t,” said lawmaker U Lar Mar Lay, who represents Hsawlaw Township.

He said Htan Tan bridge was so poorly built that it can no longer handle even motorbikes and can only be crossed on foot.

The lawmaker said an embankment built for 40 million kyats ($25,000) was exhibiting poor workmanship as well.

“It is because of the negligence of the companies that built them. They did shoddy work and used inferior materials,” U Lar Mar Lay said.

“I will ask a question about it when Parliament resumes,” he said. “If [the contractors] didn’t comply with the standards, the quality control teams have to take responsibility. [The contractors] have already handed over the structures. I want action to be taken against the quality control teams as well.”

The Irrawaddy could not reach the spokesperson of the Construction Ministry’s bridge department for comment.

U Myint Zaw, deputy director general of the ministry’s building department, said contractors are responsible for damage that occurs to their projects within a set period of time.

“If the contracts were given through bidding, the companies have to make repairs if the structures are damaged before the period — for example, two years — agreed in the contracts. They have to take responsibility,” he told The Irrawaddy.

The Lower House Transportation, Communications and Construction Committee said it had not yet received a formal complaint from U Lar Mar Lay but would take action if and when it did.

“It is not easy for ethnic [minority] regions to get a budget [for roads and bridges]. Even if we get it, it seems that it is useless,” U Lar Mar Lay said.

In August, the Construction Ministry came under fire in Parliament from lawmakers who accused it of poor oversight of build-operate-transfer road projects.

Lawmakers called on the ministry to stick closely to the tender procedures laid out by the President’s Office, inspect construction sites, prepare contracts properly and take harsh action against corrupt officials and companies that break their contracts.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.